Soon doctors would be 'slicing' open 3D images of the heart through a new technique that would do away with invasive diagnostic operations, claimed a leading British cardiologist.
Known as multi plane review (MPR) 3D echocardiography, the method enables users to identify heart defects much more accurately than on traditional 2D or standard 3D scans.
Consultant congenital cardiologist Dr Joseph Vettukattil pioneered the technique's development at Southampton General Hospital, Hampshire, to identify heart abnormalities present from birth.
"You can chop the heart into small pieces and see what is wrong and exactly where it is wrong on the screen," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted him, as describing the method.
He continued: "By using MPR, because you are slicing and seeing it in three different planes, you can get a clear understanding of a patient - especially in a child whose heart is congenitally malformed.
"The most important aspect is the operator's ability to slice the dynamic cardiac structures in infinite sections through all the three dimensions, which was not possible before we developed MPR 3D echocardiography."
Traditionally, diagnosis of heart defects has been made using 2D scans and invasive operations.
Dr Vettukattil said: "The 2D images show pictures of the heart in two planes, so it just takes one slice of the heart and, because it has not been easy to know without doubt what the problem is, surgeons have often had to perform exploratory operations as well.
"Now, though, we are able to visualise even more than a surgeon can during an operation, minimising the need for additional and invasive assessments."